Obamacare is about to collide with the U.S. tax-filing season, adding frustration for millions of taxpayers trying to figure out how to comply and how much they will owe the government.
Medical Billing Blog
The Obama administration on Tuesday reported a big increase in new customers signing up for health insurance in Florida, Texas and other states using the federal insurance marketplace.
Earlier this month, CMS released the final version of the Exchange and Insurance Market Standards for 2015. This final rule outlines how the healthcare market places will function in 2015. The rule finalizes policies regarding consumer notices, quality reporting and enrollee satisfaction surveys, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), standards for Navigators and other consumer assisters, and policies regarding the premium stabilization programs, among other standards.
The Obama administration is proposing a major cut in 2015 payments to Medicare Advantage. An annual notice released Friday after the markets closed would reduce Medicare Advantage spending by 3.55 percent. The CMS based its projections, which will differ across the country based on a variety of factors, on an expected 3.55% decline in the Medicare Advantage growth rate factor and an expected decline of 1.65% in per capita expenditures in the fee-for-service portion of the senior citizen healthcare program. The annual rate adjustment — which is only one of the payment changes — is calculated through a complicated set of formulas, and analysts were still sorting out the 148-page proposal that CMS released late in the afternoon to assess the total impact on the increasingly popular program for seniors. The cut is bigger than the industry expected, given estimates the government provided in December. Last year, the administration proposed 2.2 percent in cuts for Medicare Advantage plans. After a six-week campaign that included paid advertising inside the Beltway and beyond, and letters from at least 160 supportive lawmakers from both parties, CMS reversed a key assumption that had long been built into its estimates and instead put forward a 3.3 percent growth rate. According to a new analysis from consulting firm Avalere Health, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans rose in 2014 by 8.9 percent to 15.9 million enrollees, up from 14.6 million in 2013. Approximately 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in the plans, which are offered by private insurance companies.
The Obama administration announced Monday it would give medium-sized employers an extra year, until 2016, before they must offer health insurance to their full-time workers. Firms with at least 100 employees will have to start offering this coverage in 2015. Small businesses with fewer than 50 workers have always been exempt from the new coverage requirements but the law originally required all other businesses to start covering their workers for face penalties beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Under the Affordable Care Act, larger employers are generally subject to tax penalties if they fail to offer "minimum essential coverage" to full-time employees and their dependents. The administration laid out a three-tier approach. For larger employers with 100 or more employees (about 2 percent of employers): Seventy percent of employees must be offered coverage in 2015, and in later years at least 95 percent of employees must be offer coverage. Employers that do not meet these standards will be subject to tax penalties. For employers with 50 to 99 employees (about 2 percent of employers): Companies with 50 to 99 employees will have an extra year, until 2016, to provide coverage or pay tax penalties. For small businesses with fewer than 50 employees (about 96 percent of all employers): These companies will not be required to provide coverage or fill out any forms in any year. Officials Monday said that the delay in the Affordable Care Act mandate will affect 50 percent of the businesses that were supposed to be complying by 2015. About 7.8 million workers are employed by the affected businesses. However, those officials also took pains to note that the so-called employer mandate to offer affordable health insurance to workers does not affect 96 percent of the employers in the U.S., because they have fewer than 50 full-time employees.